Why Being Unable To Remember Your Dreams Could Be A Bad Sign

Plenty of people don’t remember their dreams. But could that actually be a sign of poor health? One sleep expert claims so, while other researchers are dubious.

Rubin Naiman Ph.D., a psychologist, and sleep and dream specialist at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, wrote a review in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences suggesting that people who don’t remember their dreams are not getting enough REM sleep.

He further posits that people who don’t get enough REM sleep are suffering from poor health, possibly without even realizing it. In the paper, he claims: “Many of the health concerns attributed to sleep loss result from a silent epidemic of REM sleep deprivation. REM/dream loss is an unrecognized public health hazard that silently wreaks havoc with our lives, contributing to illness, depression, and an erosion of consciousness.”

Naiman also believes that dreams themselves are important to mental and spiritual health. “We look at sleeping and dreaming as being secondary and subservient to waking life,” he told Men’s Health. “But it’s so much more.”

Naiman’s reasoning: dreaming most often occurs during REM sleep. So, if you don’t remember your dreams, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough REM sleep.

[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]

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It’s not a given that a lack of dreams equals a lack of good sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Many people experience their most vivid dreams during REM sleep; less vivid dreams occur at other times of the night.” So while it’s possible that people who dream less are getting less REM sleep, it’s not a foregone conclusion.

What experts do agree on: Americans are not getting enough good sleep overall. A 2014 National Sleep Foundation survey found that 35 percent of Americans surveyed describe their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair.” What’s more, 20 percent of respondents said they didn’t feel up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven mornings.

“The findings from the Sleep Health Index demonstrate a need for sleep health improvement,” said David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation said in a press release. “Sleep is an important factor in overall health. We suggest that Americans and their doctors talk about sleep as a vital sign of health and well-being.”

Researchers are also in agreement that REM sleep, specifically, is important. “During REM sleep, the brain transfers short-term memories in the motor cortex to the temporal lobe to become long-term memories,” an article from the American Psychological Association explains.

So, if you don’t remember your dreams, there’s no automatic reason to panic about your health. But if you constantly wake up feeling exhausted and find yourself low on energy throughout the day, you may not be getting enough high-quality sleep — and that’s worth investigating.

[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]

Featured image: PaeJar/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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